He was amongst the younger children. I remember him as a frail boy with prominent cheekbones. When he would smile, the dent in his cheeks would turn into a dimple. Whenever we would play cricket in the field and needed to toss, he would toss the bat up in the air with excitement and say, “Akh, ze, tra!” (One, two, three!) Being one of the younger children in the neighbourhood meant that Gowhar often got to play du taraf (both sides). For us, the older boys, children such as Gowhar were called nun-e-phol (a chunk of salt). It is an intriguing word in Kashmiri children’s vocabulary. ...Read Full Post
A couple of weeks back, India celebrated the 70th anniversary of its independence from the British colonial rule. For seven decades, India has remained the world’s most populous democracy. It is almost the only country in the developing world that has steadfastly adhered to peaceful transition of power through electoral means. In the past two decades, India has also been seen as a democratic alternative to communist China in the emerging global power configuration. However, after 40 months of Narendra Modi being the prime minister of India, there are now serious doubts over the regular continuation of the democratic arrangement in India. Indian democracy had ...Read Full Post
Why weren’t other religious minorities forced to videotape their Independence Day celebrations in India?
As if ghar wapsi programs and beef lynching was not enough, madrassas in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) have been told to celebrate the Indian Independence Day with great fervour and patriotism. And to prove that their students are very good and patriotic citizens of India, those who manage Indian madrassas will have to submit videos of how they celebrated the patriotic day. Of course, it shouldn’t surprise us, since after the appointment of a rabid anti-Muslim like Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of India’s largest state (with a large Muslim population), killings of Muslims suspected to have eaten beef have increased. Now, ...Read Full Post
Can Nawaz Sharif salvage his legacy by normalising relations with India and the economic alleviation stemming from it?
The battle lines have been drawn. Nawaz is out flaunting his muscles on the street, and his choice seems clear – defiance over acquiescence. But to what end? One possibility is that the power play is simply intended to gain political leverage and bargain relief from those the former prime minster (PM) feels have vindictively disarmed him. But two factors refute this theory – Khawaja Asif and Mushahidullah Khan. We all know the perversity with which Asif is viewed within the General Headquarters (GHQ), and the comments that led Khan to be scapegoated and removed from his ministry. The appointment of the two ...Read Full Post
Is Ram Nath Kovind’s appointment as president expected to wash away the scars inflicted on the Dalit community?
When Ram Nath Kovind and his family were denied entry into the presidential retreat in Shimla, little did he know that fate would end up making this same presidential retreat his summer abode. Fast forward two months down the lane after this incident, the 71-year-old former lawyer and state governor was elected as India’s second Dalit president. Before June 19th, the day the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) elected Kovind as its presidential candidate, nobody really knew the man that was running for the country’s highest constitutional post. His nomination not only surprised political watchers but also surprised the common man. The only time Kovind came into the national ...Read Full Post
Earlier last month, the Indian military showed up in the Dokalam region to stop the Chinese from building a road. This area falls under the Bhutan tri-junction which is a sliver of land where China, India and Bhutan meet. The incident came into light when some Indian pilgrims, on their way to Tibet, were sent back to the border. Since then, both countries have been providing their own version of the same tale. The eastern border of India with China is governed by an 1890 agreement brokered by the British. It has been fairly uneventful since then, except for the 1962 border skirmish between the two nations. Since the incident with the pilgrims, India and China ...Read Full Post
Did Senator John McCain visit Pakistan to do some necessary damage control post the Modi-Trump meeting?
The American Republican Senator, John McCain, visited Pakistan with a bi-partisan delegation this week. It was conducted against the backdrop of a much talked about meeting between the American President, Donald Trump, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Senator McCain met the top civilian and military brass and parted on a note of positivity – Pakistan was an important ally, how Pakistan was imperative for stabilisation in the region, how the US was neutral as far as the Kashmir policy was concerned and so on and so forth. The trip itself was lumped together with a July 4th visit to the American troops stationed in Afghanistan. As useless and futile ...Read Full Post
It took a long time coming, 70 years to be precise, but perhaps it was inevitable. In the nearly seven decades, since the state of Israel came into existence, no Indian prime minister set foot in the country. But true to the unorthodox style that is revitalising Indian diplomacy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally corrected this longstanding anomaly with his trip to Israel this week. The extraordinarily warm welcome Modi received illustrates how much his hosts wanted this visit to happen and how much it matters to them. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was effusive in his welcome address, using a few Hindi words and liberally sprinkling catchy ...Read Full Post
Finally, the pot and the kettle met, shook hands and hugged each other. Analysts world over are still debating possible gains and losses of a meeting between two unique characters of world politics today – Donald Trump and Narendra Modi. They represent two very vibrant democracies of the world but they are not recognised as the real faces of their multi-cultural nations. They are treated more as aberrations of history, a mistake of time rather than a true face of the era and people they got their mandate from. They both defy the norms of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy. Their past sins and acts are not holding them back from achieving ...Read Full Post
It is a sin being a Muslim in India today, but a blessing if you’re a cow. Otherwise, how else can you justify the uninterrupted killings and lynching of Muslim men in the name of cows ever since Narendra Modi assumed power in May 2014? The latest victim is a man called Alimuddin, aka Asgar Ali, in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. He was allegedly transporting some meat and the cow protection group (an euphemism for radical and extremist Hindu militant groups) intercepted the vehicle and beat him to death without verifying the content of the vehicle. Their hatred towards Muslims is so extreme that it’s the name that invites revulsion. ...Read Full Post